by Julia O'Carey
Only God knows what horrors seven-year-old Bian* (pictured at far right) endured before she arrived at the Cambodia Adventist Vietnamese School (CAVS) in Phnom Penh. Her adoptive mother, who had taken Bian as payment for a debt owed by her birth mother, was a known child trafficker and practiced witchcraft.
CAVS quickly became a safe haven for Bian. There she experienced the loving instruction of Christian teachers and received a warm, nutritious lunch each day. There she learned about Jesus and found a nurturing church family. But after attending CAVS through fourth grade, Bian did not return to school the following year. There was no explanation or goodbye. Like so many other at-risk children in Southeast Asia, she simply disappeared.
Then, recently, Bian reappeared and began attending worship and Bible studies at the school. Now nearly 20 years old, she desperately wanted a different life than the one her mother had chosen for her. This angered Bian’s mother. She had arranged to sell her daughter to a wealthy, older man. Now, Bian was refusing to go through with it. Over and over, her mother pressured her and threatened her with bodily harm before finally forcing Bian out of the house.
The CAVS staff was moved with compassion when they learned that Bian was living in a park. They gave her a safe place to stay and helped her start a small salon to provide for herself. Today, she is faithfully attending church and growing in her relationship with Jesus.
Bian’s story illustrates what’s so special about ASAP’s wholistic approach to missions. ASAP missionaries minister to both the felt and spiritual needs of those they serve. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed just how monumental these needs are.
For two years, ASAP, ADRA, and the Cambodia Adventist Mission (CAM) have partnered on a Total Member Involvement (TMI) initiative equipping local Adventist church members to serve their communities. During the pandemic, they have met many at-risk families in crisis. Students’ parents have lost their jobs. Health problems have increased. ASAP, ADRA, and CAM are responding by providing urgent health education, vocational training, and emergency food assistance. This demonstration of compassion has opened the hearts of these Buddhist families like never before.
Sok Chanthong, a single mother, is one of the project’s beneficiaries. The material support she received sustained her family and opened the door to a life-changing encounter with Jesus! “One day, Mr. Buntim (a TMI project team member) visited my home to share the gospel with me,” she explains. “I asked, ‘What is the gospel? I have never heard of it.’ ‘It is the story of Jesus,’ he told me, and he began to share Bible stories with me every Friday. I had anxiety and sleep disorders due to the trauma of losing my husband and the challenge of trying to raise my two sons alone. But the words in the Bible gave me hope and encouragement. I also learned about the eight laws of health. After three months, I was fully recovered. I recently got baptized because Jesus is my Savior. I have decided to follow Him forever forward.”
Through the Covid-19 response initiative, Sok Chanthong received seeds to plant vegetables that she sells to support her family. This small business, the training given her, and her newfound faith in Jesus have lifted her out of abject poverty and hopelessness. We praise God for providing for Bian, Sok Chanthong, and thousands of other at-risk children and families through people like you.
These are desperate times for the poor and the unreached in Southeast Asia. They have little hope for today, let alone for tomorrow. That’s why ASAP is launching the Compassion campaign as this fiscal year draws to a close.
Between now and September 30, 2021, we are praying for $200,000 to support ASAP schools in Cambodia, the Total Member Involvement initiative, and the Making Missionaries Program, a new project that will provide education to promising young people who desire to become ASAP missionaries. Five ASAP donors have pledged a total of $100,000 in matching funds for this campaign. Between now and September 30, every dollar you give will be doubled, multiplying your impact for the gospel!
Matthew 9:36 relates that “when [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (NKJV). Your gift to the Compassion campaign will help ASAP missionaries extend Jesus’ wholistic ministry of hope and healing to the poor and unreached multitudes in Southeast Asia.
Click here to donate to the Compassion Campaign, and please join us in praying that the Holy Spirit will move upon many hearts to respond to this invitation to show compassion for Christ!
*Bian is a pseudonym